Connection was not what I expected to feel as I sat alone this year New Year’s Eve in covid close contact isolation. But, as I live-streamed Sydney’s fireworks from my laptop, I did feel connected. The pillowy booms through my speakers were echoed by the sounds of fireworks exploding over the beach near me, and echoed again by the fireworks on FaceTime from my friends miles away. Upstairs, I could hear my grandpa laughing for joy at his tv screen. Everywhere, despite everything, we were finding ways to celebrate. Even though it has been the second year of the pandemic, I’ve developed a newfound respect for the power of connection through the highs and lows of 2021.
And I’ve managed to finish the year on a bit of high, going away on a few road trips up the New South Wales coast to enjoy our white Christmas (sand). Like many people, these years have made me appreciate the beauty of the land around me – from Nelson Bay to Hyams Beach, as well as Byron Bay, Brisbane, Bellingen and the Blue Mountains. Turns out, a town four hours up the coast with your favourite people can be an even more lovely trip than a European island getaway!
I may not have left my living room, but studying global films made me feel like I’d lived days around the world.
I’ve also loved working on some great projects while studying journalism.
It’s been fantastic to get involved with my university news lab, Central News (CN) – which has won the JERAA “Publication of the Year” for student news websites two years running. I loved working as one of five leaders in its newsroom – creating the news agenda in the morning, compiling stories from our inbox, working with authors and doing it all through Zoom! Overall, I started this year publishing my first article on CN in April, and I ended the year with a stint running the paper while our senior editor was on holidays!
I’ve also had much of my own work published with CN, as I’ve embedded above. I have to say that I’m most proud of this article that focused on cyber security in the Australian health care sector.
All the while, my little sister was getting through her final year of high school, and I absolutely loved spending time with her as a English tutor. You’ve got to feel for those students losing their final high school experiences, but hopefully, we replaced some of hers with lots of beach mornings and cooking adventures during study!
On top of keeping busy, it was the time I spent with loved ones like Ruby, my endless calls with friends and socially distanced coastal walks that got me through the 2021 lockdown. For me, this year’s lockdown was much more challenging than last year.
On a positive note, I loved the way this lockdown, in particular, taught me to care for my mental and physical health and – for the first time – see time with friends and family as essential rather than a luxury. I think I used to view all the time I spent just hanging out and having fun with the people around me – from dinners to parties, beach days, brunches and movies – as indulgent or frivolous. I was wrong! I didn’t realise how much these little things energise and inspire me and leave me satisfyingly exhausted in a way that is an antidote for listlessness.
With the threat of getting terribly sick around every corner, I started making sure I was very healthy and rested at all times. Maybe it shouldn’t have taken a pandemic to remind me how powerful 8 hours of sleep for consecutive weeks can be… It’s like functioning on a constant IV drip of coffee!
I’m actually the only one in the newsroom at Channel 10 who doesn’t drink coffee! I wonder how long that will last… But it has been great to start an internship with Channel 10 this summer – one of Australia’s main broadcasting channels! I’ve loved learning to write voiceovers for the evening newsreaders (like Sandra Sully!) and following journalists (like Antoinette Lattouf) as they go out for the day with camera teams. I can’t wait to keep learning!
Keeping up learning is just about my only expectation for 2022, as covid cases in Sydney, like cities around the world, peak as they never have before. I suppose if you’re looking after yourself and you’re connected in some way to your favourite people, then you’re about as prepared as you can be for these times! Happy 2022 everyone!